Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, and 11 other state attorneys general filed today to block the Biden administration’s ongoing violation of the Mineral Leasing Act (MLA) and Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA). This reckless abuse of Presidential power threatens the livelihoods of rural Montana families and will cost the state millions in tax revenue if allowed to continue.
In January, President Biden issued Executive Order 14008 declaring a moratorium on future oil and gas leasing and drilling permits on federal lands. The Biden Executive Order halted all oil and gas leasing operations, days after the Interior Department halted development and exploration of existing leases.
“Like Joe Biden’s attempt to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline, his efforts to end responsible energy development on federal land is something he doesn’t have the power to do. It is a violation of the law. Biden’s ‘America Last’ energy agenda picks up where the Obama administration left off and shows no regard for rural communities or the people who live in them.”
An ongoing lease moratorium will lower employment by 210 jobs, reduce personal income by $13 million, and cost the state $4 million in oil and gas taxes, according to a University of Wyoming study published in December 2020. By 2025, the cumulative effect would be 702 fewer jobs, $170 million reduced person income, and $199 million in foregone oil and gas tax revenue.
“Federal oil and gas production in Montana is in rural areas,” the report says. The economic losses resulting from a leasing moratorium – like the one Biden has imposed – “will have an impact on rural communities and local governments reliant upon mineral tax revenue.”
The MLA and OCSLA set out specific statutory duties for the Department of the Interior to “further the expeditious and safe development of the abundant energy resources on public lands and the Outer Continental Shelf.” These laws affirm Congress’s intent to responsibly use our own resources as a means of achieving energy independence.
These leases allow America to reach its full energy-production potential. For the states specifically, they also provide significant environmental benefits because portions of the lease proceeds are invested into vital environmental and restoration projects. The federal government returns billions of dollars to states each year and environmental reclamation projects from OCSLA and MLA lease proceeds are critical for environmental restoration and protection projects.
The Biden administration purports that its lease moratorium protects the environment; but instead, it constitutes what is likely the single-largest divestment of revenue for environmental protection projects in American history. Making matters worse, the agencies implementing the Order – the Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management – rushed to stop long-planned lease sales without any consideration whether the action complies with the law, the public good, or the procedural requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act.
In addition to Montana and Louisiana the following states joined in the lawsuit filed this morning in the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia.
Read the full complaint here.
PRESS RELEASE PROVIDED BY MONTANA DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE